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Short-List and Prioritize Specific Renewable Energy Initiatives

Having identified the available options, evaluate those opportunities against your city’s goals and priorities. Below is a list of considerations that may be useful in comparing the various options.

  • Transaction Complexity

    Some forms of renewable energy can be procured more quickly and easily than others due to the varying complexity of the necessary transactions. An EPA analysis summarizes the range of complexity as follows:

  • Scalability

    Different models will have different minimum and maximum size thresholds or other constraints that you should consider with respect to your goals. 

Supply Options
Green Tariffs
On-Site Self Generation
Community Solar
Physical Power Purchase Agreements
Virtual Power Purchase Agreements
Size Constraints

Green Tariffs

Varies by program; typically limited to large commercial customers.

On-Site Self Generation

Average size for commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) systems was 181 kilowatts (kW) in California in 2017.

Community Solar

Projects typically range from 50 kW to 2 megawatts (MW) in size, but can be larger.

Physical Power Purchase Agreements

Project sizes can range from ~10 MW up to hundreds of MWs.

Virtual Power Purchase Agreements

Project sizes can range from ~10 MW up to hundreds of MWs.
  • Environmental Impact

    The EPA’s AVERT tool can help quantify the potential GHG and air pollution impact of various renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. 

  • Local Economic Impact

    NREL’s Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) models provide estimates of the economic impact of various renewable energy projects. While the solar PV model is no longer officially supported, it is available upon request.

  • Financial Costs and Benefits

    The World Bank’s CURB tool may help you evaluate the potential cost and impact of different projects and programs. In addition, when evaluating potential costs, you may want to consider both whether the city has funds budgeted to directly purchase and own required assets and what consultant budget may be required.

  • Equity
  • Grid Resilience

    Renewable energy projects that are located within the community, such as community solar and on-site solar, can potentially be paired with energy storage and microgrids to enhance local grid resilience. Generally speaking, off-site projects are not able to provide these resilience opportunities to local communities.

  • Leadership in Advancing a Clean Economy

    Partnering with other entities to jointly procure energy may allow you to improve the size and visibility of your efforts. Additionally, the larger or more unusual your transactions, the more media attention you are likely to garner Estimating Economic Impacts:
    NREL’s JEDI models estimate the economic impact of various renewable energy projects. The Solar PV model is no longer officially supported by NREL but is available upon request.
    Estimating potential GHG savings:
    The EPA’s Avoided Emissions and generation Tool (AVERT) helps users estimate the potential GHG and air pollution impact of a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
    Evaluating potential costs:
    The World Bank’s Climate Action for Urban Sustainability (CURB) tool allows users to evaluate different action plans and assess their potential cost and impact.
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